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Could pot save San Francisco? SF Weed Week seeks to revitalize city

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California’s Bay Area has long been an epicenter of cannabis culture, but San Francisco is getting a bad rap as of late. From a pandemic-induced economic downturn to a rise in crime, people have left the cities in droves. But could pot bring them back? If you ask veteran cannabis journalist and senior Leafly editor David Downs, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

The creator of the upcoming SF Weed Week happening April 13 – 19, Downs is planning a multi-day experience that will see consumers, cultivators, and industry professionals traverse the city to celebrate all things cannabis. 

Much like Restaurant Week or Beer Week, SF Weed Week features some of California’s top growers and brands showcasing their latest and greatest at iconic consumption lounges and dispensaries. From exclusive product drops to an art exhibit celebrating weed packaging, activities span the vertical—and the city of San Francisco itself.

“This is a thing that can almost only happen in San Francisco because we have licensed lounges, because we have so many great growers on tap, and because we have such a critical mass of people to come out,” Downs told GreenState.

“The city is 36 percent empty downtown from a commercial square footage rental perspective,” he explained. “My vision is a thriving and exemplary city of San Francisco, cannabis industry, and cannabis culture.”

“Weed growers are rock stars…”

Downs was inspired to create SF Weed Week after reminiscing about record release shows at the famed Amoeba Records. Legions of loyal fans would line the streets, waiting to catch a glimpse of their favorite artists before securing a copy of their newest drops. It’s a vibe Downs hopes to recreate for the cannabis community.

“To me, weed growers are rockstars, and strains are celebrities—I just want to give these strain releases the same rock star treatment.”

Confirmed cultivators and breeders include Sunset Connect, Cipher Genetics, Purple City Genetics, Uncle Dad Vibes, Compound Genetics, Sonoma Hills Farm, Fig Farms, Sense Cannabis, Moon Made Farms, Greenshock Farms, and MOCA Humboldt (RSVPs are recommended; the full lineup and schedule are available on Downs equated the roster with the legendary Outside Lands music festival, which brings A-list acts to Golden Gate Park every summer.

“A lot of people are starstruck when they see these folks that are growing the flower that they like to smoke every single day,” laughed Sabrina Pacheco, a founding advisor of SF Weed Week. “There are so many smaller cultivators in San Francisco and brands and all these great lounges and I think together, the more conversation that they can all put out to the world and welcome folks back in San Francisco via cannabis—it’s something that could be very magical during 4/20.”

The venerable tour de force showcases cannabis culture in a way that’s never been done before. Attendees will visit a wide range of weed venues, including Mission Cannabis Club, Meadow HQ, Mirus Gallery, Sparc on Polk, Moe Greens, Solful on Irving Street, The Vapor Room, and Flore. 

After interacting with their favorite brands, SF Weed Week guests will have the chance to pre-order the exclusive drops on display—a somewhat new concept for the California cannabis industry. Downs hopes the idea will stick and provide an economic stimulus to producers and retailers alike, with the goal of bringing Weed Week to other cities across the country.

Get to the Bag

Another unique aspect of SF Weed Week is the Get to the Bag cannabis mylar bag exhibition and retrospective at Mirus Gallery & Art Bar. The first-of-its-kind exhibition features over 400 iconic mylar bags from more than 50 brands from both regulated and traditional markets, representing millions of dollars in IP. Opening night celebrations are scheduled for Friday, April 5th, and the show will run through April 23.

The weed packaging game has evolved considerably since back in the day when buds were sold in non-descript baggies. The mylars of today enable producers to tell their brand story, express their ethos, and catch consumers’ eyes. Downs believes the space has largely been underestimated, both in terms of the packaging designers and the rabid fans who buy them.

“What I learned programming this is that the cannabis mylar bag is an extremely active, aesthetically refined corner of the art world,” he said, adding visitors should expect a rather pungent exhibit. “It’s a mirror into the cannabis culture because bag makers will tell you they’re trying to please consumers, and consumers are clamoring for variety in their bag designs and art, even if the weed in there is the same.”

The poster for the Get to the Bag cannabis art exhibition and retrospective. Photo: SF Weed Week

With the official Hippie Hill event canceled this year, anticipation is high for SF Weed Week—no pun intended. According to a news release from city officials, cannabis fans should direct their attention to the inaugural weeklong fest. While locals will likely lament the loss of Hippie Hill 2024, the potential for SF Weed Week to bring desperately-needed business to San Francisco is the silver lining.

“I want to put the Bat-signal out for everybody to come to downtown San Francisco,” Downs concluded.



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